Monday, 14 March 2011

Massive earthquake in Japan harms its economy, aid abroad: Cambodia PM

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 05:02 administrator

PHNOM PENH, March 14 -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the massive earthquake in Japan on March 11 will not only damage Japanese economy, but also will affect Japanese assistance overseas.

"The destruction by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were the worst and caused hugely losses both human lives and properties, " he made the remarks during a graduation ceremony for students at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

"The natural disaster will impact both Japanese economy and Japan's internationally obligatory implementation abroad including Cambodia."

The premier said that tomorrow (Tuesday), Masafumi Kuroki, ambassador of Japan will still sign up to provide a grant aid package of 94 million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for flood protection, water distribution system, and demining activities.

He confirmed that so far, there is no report on Cambodian students were killed or injured in the massive earthquake in Japan.

A total of 1,598 people have been killed and 1,720 others are still missing by 8:00 a.m. (2300 GMT) Monday in Japan following Friday's catastrophic earthquake 9.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale and ensuing enormous tsunami, said the National Police Agency.(Xinhua/sp).

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

PM Hun Sen Welcomes MOU between Cambodian and South Korean Environment Institutions

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has welcomed the signing of MOU between Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment and South Korean’s Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), saying that the country concentrated its hope on South Korea to assist in increasing the greenness.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen was speaking while receiving South Korean President’s Special Envoy and GGGI’s Chairman Mr. Han Seung-soo in Phnom Penh last Friday.

He said that Cambodia was developing and despite the fact that the development was progressing with Cambodia’s own greenness, it had to be cautious as the greenness would reduce and would be replaced by dryness.

He informed the South Korean envoy that Cambodia had divided the areas into the projected zones, development zones and reforested zones to expand the natural areas and reforestation.

Speaking of the challenging issues, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said that 95 percent of Cambodian people use firewood to cook food and to produce palm sugar. He added that the loggings were banned by the Royal Government of Cambodia since 1998 and the remaining loggings are just for local consumption.

For his part, Mr. Han Seung-soo said that South Korea is much interested in growing the green resources and GGGI, which was established two years ago, would like to share the experiences in green growth with Cambodia.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen thanked the South Korean President for having extended to him the warm regards. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by Ravuth M.


Cambodia To Host Gems and Jewelry Exhibition in June

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – Cambodia is going to host the third Gems and Jewelry Exhibition in June, an official of the Ministry of Commerce said.

The exhibition is scheduled to take place from June 16 to 19 at Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center, Phnom Penh, he indicated.

Local jewelry and gem traders as well as those from Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand will be invited to join the four-day exhibition, he said.

The first Gems and Jewelry Exhibition was held in 2009 and in 2010, the second exhibition attracted 49 local companies and foreign businessmen from seven countries.

Gems and jewelry are one of the major potentials for the country’s development. In Cambodia, precious stones are mostly found in the provinces of Pailin, Takeo, Ratanakiri and Kampong Thom, etc. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom


The International Drawing Competition on “Gender Equality” Launched

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – The 2011 Gender Equality Drawing Competition for Children was launched here on Mar. 11 at Preah Sisowath high school in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day.

The launching ceremony was attended by ChargĂ© d’affaires of the EU delegation to Cambodia Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports H.E. Pit Chamnan.

The director of Phnom Penh Education Department, the president of Mith Samlanh Organization (Friends), representatives from 60 schools in Phnom Penh and more than 100 students from Preah Sisowath high school and Daun Penh primary school were also present at the event.

With a top prize of 1,000 euros (about US$1,300), the competition, jointly organized by EU and Mith Samlanh Organization, is held this year under the theme “girls and boys, together can make the world a better place”, according to Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno.

For his part, H.E. Pit Chamnan expressed his support to the competition, stressing that drawing is very important in building people’s intelligence and knowledge.

In 2010, over 1,800 Cambodian children participated in the competition with other 50,000 children aged from 8 to 10 from 61 countries. A Cambodian boy, 8, from Anuwath primary school in Siem Reap province was among other 14 children from different regions of the world who won the competition.

The International Drawing Competition on gender equality has been run by the European Commission since 2007 with great success. The competition aims to mobilize and raise the awareness of both children and adults around the issue of gender equality. –AKP

By LIM Nary


Cambodian Tourism Delegation Leaves for Russia and Switzerland

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – To build up tourism network and seek high-level partners for Cambodian capacity building, Cambodian Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon on Mar. 11 led a delegation to Russia and Switzerland.

In the first country, Russia, the Cambodian delegation will sign the 2012-2014 joint action work plan on tourism cooperation with the Russian counterpart. In addition to mutual tourism promotion and experience sharing, the action work plan is supposed to re-enable direct flight from Russia to Cambodia, Mr.Tith Chantha, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before the departure of the delegation.

In Switzerland, he added, the Cambodian delegation will sign a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of Switzerland-supported cooking training center in Cambodia. Switzerland has been very famous internationally for its cooking skill and other services related to hotel and tourism.

As said by Mr. Tith Chantha, the international mission of the Cambodian tourism delegation contributes to preparing the capacity and quality of Cambodian tourism sector to welcome visitors projected to rise to 2.7 million in 2011, 3.1 million in 2012 and 7 million in 2020.

The delegation led by H.E. Thong Khon will return home on Mar. 17, 2011. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil


A Means to Better Women’s and Children’s Health

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – A health centre, located in Svay Chek commune of Angkor Thom district, Siem Reap province, was inaugurated last Friday by Plan International Cambodia in the presence of H.E. Mao Vuthy, Personal Advisor to National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin and Vice Governor of Siem Reap province.

Funded by the GSK (GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd), the approximately US$100,000 worth Svay Chek health centre was constructed under the partnership among Plan International Cambodia, Siem Reap Operational District (OD), Siem Reap Provincial Health Department and respective community people in complete conformation with the National Health Centre Architectural Design Standard.

It cost the residents of Svay Chek commune, Angkor Thom district of Siem Reap province with an average of 30,000 riels [7.5$] and 3 hours to refer a sick family member to the most attainable treatment before the existence of this local health center.

Remarkably, the deprivation of health service attributes tremendously to the high rate of maternal and child mortality rate in Cambodia and Svay Chek commune is no exception.

According to Provincial Profile 2010, Siem Reap-wide, there were 151 mother deaths per 100,000 mothers having childbirth, 8 among 1,000 children died between 0 to 1 month old and 178 children died before their fifth birthday. In Angkor Thom district alone, 4 mothers and 10 children died in 0 to 1 month after the delivery and 14 children died before their fifth birthday.

“Children mostly suffer from preventable diseases like acute respiratory infection (ARI), diarrhea and dengue fever that stifle their quality enjoyment of their education and socialization and that worsen their family economy which is already low,” said Plan Cambodia’s Siem Reap Programme Unit Manager Pich Sophary, adding that the newly constructed health center is expected to benefit more than 5,575 population (2,887 females) in which 2,749 or 49 percent are children (1,411 or more than 50 percent of them are girls).

The participatory approach will tap the health centre’s lasting quality health care service provision – a means that well responds to the commitment of Cambodian First Lady, Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen, in her new title given by the United Nations as National Champion for the United Nations Secretary General’s Joint Plan of Action for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Svay Chek health centre is the second one of its kind supported by Plan International Cambodia. The first one is the June-2009 opened Prey health centre in Srei Snam district. It earned national recognition by the Ministry of Health as the first top among 60 health centres Siem Reap-wide for its user-friendly facilities, round-the-clock service and good moral staff.

Improving grassroots community health and practices is one of many programme interventions of Plan International Cambodia in its effort to end child poverty – an approach believed to effectively address the country’s poverty and build stronger next generations. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil


Workshop to Promote Community Fish Breeding Held

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2011 AKP – The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in collaboration with the European Union Food Security Programme organized here last Friday a consultative workshop to promote fish hatchery development and community-pond fish breeding at the Ministry’s Agricultural Department.

Officially opened by Mr. Srun Lim Song, Deputy Director General of Fisheries Administration, the one-day workshop is expected to enable the compilation of a fish breeding guide book that will consequently increase community food supplies.

According to Mr. Pav Ratana, Communication Officer of EU Food Security Programme, the workshop is part of the European Union Programme to boost Cambodia’s agricultural sector, especially in response to the world’s tendency of increasing food price.

The two-year programme that will end within few months, he added, has invested US$15 million in physical infrastructure like building water waterway as well as other irrigation facilities. Some of the amount also goes to service provision, like providing fingerlings, rice and vegetable seeds and capacity building to households and concerned authorities.

The programme is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to rehabilitate and dig totally 86 community ponds to breed fish in nine provinces across Cambodia.

The fish breeding guide book produced by the workshop will thereby ensure the sustainability of fish breeding practice in both the existing and expanded community. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil

Four face court for child porn offences

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:02 Mom Kunthear

A United States citizen and three others will today face court after they were arrested in Daun Penh district on Friday for producing pornographic videos and images of an 11-year-old girl.

Samleang Seila, country director for child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said yesterday that APLE had worked with local police and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Police to arrest the US national, his girlfriend, the victim’s older sister and a friend of the victim’s older sister.

“[The US national] destroyed some video tapes ... and [police] believe that those video tapes were of the suspect having sex with children,” said Samleang Seila, adding that ICE informed APLE of the US citizen’s presence in Cambodia late last year.

The victim said in an APLE statement that she had been lured to the guesthouse twice before, and was raped by the US national at least three times.

APLE stated that police found toy handcuffs, rope and a toy gun at the guesthouse as well as CDs, broken video tapes, a camera and methamphetamines.

Daun Penh district police chief Hun Sothy yesterday declined to comment.

Drug suspects moved

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:02 May Titthara

Poipet police said they will send 22 people suspected of drug use to the Banteay Meanchey provincial police office today after they were arrested on February 12.

Um Sophal, Popiet town police chief, said yesterday that his officers cooperated with provincial police officers and raided a house in Poipet district’s Kbal Spean village.

He added that during the raid police confiscated drug paraphernalia, adding that the suspects had been connected to numerous robberies as well.

Chan Kosal, deputy provincial police chief, said yesterday that he had not yet received the 22 suspects held in Poipet for drug testing, but they will either face charges or be sent to a drug rehabilitation facility.

Changing the climate paradigm

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Han Seung-soo, chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute, speaks to The Post in Phnom Penh on Friday.

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:02 Uong Ratana

The Ministry of Environment and the Global Green Growth Institute, a Korean-based think tank that assists developing countries in sustainable growth, signed a memorandum of understanding last Thursday, setting the stage for environmentally-conscious projects in the Kingdom.

The agreement was signed by Minister of Environment Mok Mareth and the GGGI’s Chairman Han Seung-soo, a former prime minister in South Korea between 2008 and 2009. Cambodia will become the fourth country to work with GGGI, joining Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Han Seung-soo spoke with The Post last Friday about GGGI and its future plans in Cambodia.

Could you tell me a little more about the agreement signed on Thursday?
The crisis of climate change has a paradigm growth that is quantity-oriented – heavy fuel-dependent growth. We have to change our growth paradigm from traditional to new: quality-oriented, low-carbon green growth. And Korea is the first country that has been implementing this policy in their government.

We’d like to share this information with other countries, particularly ... developing countries. Developed countries have a capacity – finance and technology – but developing countries don’t have a capacity to absorb these new ideas. And the Cambodian government has been very positive with working with us.

That’s why I’m here. We have not yet identified the project. We would like to work with Cambodia on these issues that affect them most – they may be Mekong River issues as well as forestry [issues]. I am leaving two of my staff here, and we’ll be working with the Ministry of Environment to look for any way we can further cooperate in the future.

When you spoke with the Minister of Environment, as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen, did they mention any specific environmental challenges or areas that they wanted help in?
Prime Minister Hun Sen fully knew the problems of climate change that humanity is facing. He was very well-versed, not just as a problem of Cambodia, but as a global issue of climate change.

He mentioned, for example, forestry. People, almost 85 percent here, use trees to burn in order to cook in the countryside. You have to protect the forests in order to contain carbon dioxide.

According to a study by [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], about 15 to 20 percent of carbon dioxide is contained in forests. So if you cut trees, then you release carbon dioxide and increase heat. And also water is very important, because those living along the Mekong River are very poor people that are susceptible to floods.

To what extent do you think developed countries are responsible for or guilty of the effects of climate change?
Developed countries, particularly those that benefited from the industrial revolution, are responsible. In terms of green house gas accumulation, Cambodia is very miniscule. For example, major carbon emissions come from about 10 countries. China produces 20 percent of total emissions; the United States, about 20 percent [also].

Those countries that benefited greatly from the Industrial Revolution ... they’ve made a lot of emissions. Two-thirds of the temperature increase of the past 10,000 years was due to the Industrial Revolution. But each nation has to have a response to this situation. All countries are involved. We are bound to produce a lot of emissions.

So at this juncture, the ... former developing countries, the emerging economies and developing countries all have to contribute to ameliorating the issues for the future of humanity.

The Cambodian economy is growing at a quick pace. How does a country like Cambodia continue to grow without damaging its environment?
That’s exactly what we have to deal with. In the quantitative-growth paradigm, when you grow, you’re bound to have an impact on the environment.

In Korea, during the last 30 to 40 years, all the growth proponents argued we had to be “first”, “fast”, “now” and then deal with the environment later. Whereas there are environmentalists that think we should go for slow growth, but it should protect our environment.

What you are trying to do is find a [compromise] between growth and sustainability.

Finally, what do you hope to accomplish in Cambodia?
Well, we have a very good relationship between Korea and Cambodia. And I think that we would like to see Cambodia prosper. We have a little over US$300 million in trade with Cambodia, but we have direct investments of $3 billion in Cambodia. So we are, I think, the largest investor in Cambodia and I’m glad that Koreans are coming out to Cambodia to invest.

Korea has been growing very fast during the last 40 years. We were once very poor, like Cambodia, but we managed to overcome it. We’d like to see Cambodia repeat what we’ve done, but not through the wrong way.

I’m interested in helping many countries, but you have to have a good response from them. Cambodia has been very positive; they’ve been very forthright contacting us.

For example, the government said they wanted to do what Korea did in [developing legislation on] a new low-carbon framework. They are very willing, and we are willing to work with them.

Interview by Matt Lundy

Prey Lang scepticism aired at forum

Photo by: Thomas Miller
A villager expresses her concern about a land concession that has been granted in Prey Lang forest during a forum in Tbong Toek village, in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district, on Friday.

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:02 Thomas Miller

Villagers vented while the government defended its approval of an economic land concession in Prey Lang forest during a public forum in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district over the weekend.

Officials from five political parties joined roughly 300 villagers from four provinces in Tbong Toek village in Meanrith commune on Friday.

Residents say the 6,044-hectare economic land concession to Vietnamese-owned CRCK Rubber Development Co, Ltd is a threat to their livelihoods and to one of Cambodia’s largest forests.

Ros San, a resident of Popok village in Sandan district, called forcefully for the government to protect the forest, drawing loud applause from many villagers in attendance.

“Many forests have been cut but we still have one – Prey Lang – so we must protect it,” he said.

Chhay, a villager from Preah Vihear province, said people depend on the forest, especially the trees for collecting resin.

“The company clears their trees,” he said. “All people request the government to protect the forest and keep it for all people. People depend on the land and forest, so where can they go, how can they survive?”

People living near the 200,000-hectare forest, which has not been designated as a protected area, have the right to harvest non-timber products such as resin, small wood and other materials for making furniture and hammocks.

Chut Wutty, director of the Natural Resource Protection Group, said resin-bearing trees are “like the farm for poor people” living in the area.

Chut Wutty said residents are concerned that this concession will be the beginning of the end for Prey Lang. “When one [company] starts and gets successful, they get more,” he said.

Government officials have said the area is state-owned land, giving them the right to lease it as they see fit.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries signed a contract granting CRCK a 70-year lease on the plot of land in May last year, following approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Council of Ministers in September 2009, according to documents obtained yesterday by The Post.

The company began operations sometime last month, Chut Wutty said.

Sim Vanna, Sandan district governor, said the concession would bring development to the area, and urged the villagers to work for CRCK.

“Before the company comes, it is quiet, there is no market. Now, there is a big market,” he said. “If you have no skills, the company can teach you.”

Uth Sam An, deputy Kampong Thom provincial governor, said the desires for conservation and development were both worthy of support, but said traditional methods of harvesting in the forest were unsustainable because of population growth.

Government officials suggested local residents submit a complaint, though Seng Sokheng, representative for the Community Peace-building Network, said they have submitted several over the past three years requesting the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to stop granting economic land concessions in Prey Lang.

A number of villagers expressed scepticism and wanted to view CRCK and the concession area, which the government said was “degraded forest”, for themselves.

About 20 military police and police blocked the entrance to CRCK grounds, saying they were concerned about a protest, mirroring events late last month when residents were denied access.

Uong Moly, Sandan district police inspector, said the road was private and that police had a duty to protect the company.

Following negotiations with NGOs and journalists, the police allowed one van of journalists to view the corrugated metal fence surrounding the company grounds.

The entrance to the concession area was also guarded by a handful of military police and police, who denied access.

One officer, Chan Moeun, said CRCK paid him 10,000 riels (about US$2.50) per day.

Dense foliage could be viewed from the gate, and about a hundred large, recently-cut logs lined the dirt road approaching the 6,044-hectare concession.


Opposition lawmaker announces resignation

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Meas Sokchea

Mao Monyvann, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian representing Kampong Cham province, said yesterday that he was resigning his post, as the opposition party evaluates a reshuffle of constituencies aimed at shoring up support ahead of the 2013 national elections.

The reshuffle was announced earlier this year and will see party members who stood as candidates in the 2008 elections replace some current parliamentarians.

Mao Monyvann said his decision to resign was motivated by personal reasons and a promise he made to his supporters that he would leave his post if he failed to increase support for the party in other provinces.

“Before the [last] election, I said in front of my supporters that if seats in some provinces do not increase, we must give those seats to other colleagues,” he said.

Mao Monyvann had been set to move to Takeo province in the reshuffle. He will be replaced by Kuoy Bunroeun, currently an SRP lawmaker in Takeo.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the resignation was purely a personal matter and not the result of party pressure.

Police Blotter: 14 Mar 2011

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:00 Sen David

Suspect arrested over string of violent crimes
Chamkamon district police arrested a 27-year-old man on Sunday, accused of committing several violent robberies in Phnom Penh. Police said that many victims had filed complaints alleging the suspect and his accomplice had stolen mobile phones and motorcycles at gunpoint since 2007. Some victims were shot to death when they shouted for help or attempted to fight back. Police sent the suspect to Phnom Penh Municipal Court and are searching for his accomplice who is on the run.

Arrest made over Kampot house robbery
A 32-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of committing a robbery three years ago in Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district. According to police, the man looted the house of a neighbour in 2008 and apprehended the suspect when he returned home on Wednesday, and sent him to provincial court for further investigation although the suspect denied the allegations.

Karaoke hacker on the run in Svay Chek
POLICE are searching for a 28-year-old man accused of hacking a 29-year-old man with a cleaver on Thursday night in Banteay Meanchey’s Svay Chek district. Police said the victim and the suspect sang karaoke with each other at the same parlour when an argument broke out. The suspect then attacked the victim with a cleaver in the head outside the parlour and escaped. The victim, who was unconscious, was sent to a local health centre by his relatives.

Jilted lover detained over rape attempt
A 38-YEAR-OLD farmer was arrested on Tuesday in Takeo province’s Prey Kabas district after a 34-year-old woman accused him of attempted rape. Police said the suspect restrained the woman in a forest while she was washing alone behind her home, but she shouted for help and the suspect escaped from the scene. The woman later withdrew her complaint after being paid compensation, while neighbours claim the two previously had a relationship together.

Violent husband taken into custody after attack
KHSACH KANDAL district police in Kandal province sent a 32-year-old man to court accused of domestic violence several times while intoxicated. Police said he was educated and signed preventative contracts many times, but never followed up on his promise. On Tuesday, he returned home drunk and injured his 31-year-old wife who was sleeping in a hammock. The woman’s mother and brother intervened in the abuse and turned him over to police.

Riel deal for new bourse

A money changer displays 500 riel notes in Phnom Penh on Friday. Reuters

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Soeun Say and Jeremy Mullins

CAMBODIA’S stock exchange will require listings in riel but will initially allow dual currency settlements, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.

“The issuing of securities shall be completed in riel and the quotation of securities in the [Cambodia Securities Exchange] shall be conducted in riel,” it said in a statement issued late last week.

Settlements between buyers and sellers, however, will be allowed in both dollars and riel during the first three years of the bourse’s operation, it said.

Government policy is to promote usage of the domestic currency in order to facilitate economic development, said SECC Director General Ming Bankosal. The dual options for settlements reflected the widespread use of the dollar, he said.

“We will use the riel, but we also recognise [there is interest in] widely using US dollars in the Cambodian securities markets,” he said yesterday.

The Cambodian economy is currently highly dollarised. The National Bank of Cambodia has estimated the greenback accounts for more than 90 percent of currency in circulation, but has also stated it is committed to dedollarisation.

Private sector officials said yesterday they were supportive of the decision.

ACLEDA Bank CEO and President In Channy said yesterday that initially allowing bourse settlement in either dollars or riel would invite more participation in the exchange, which is due to launch this July.

Banks currently more deposits than outstanding loans, meaning there was excess liquidity available which could be invested in securities, he said. “The stock exchange does allow small investors the great opportunity of owning a portion of … a large corporation,” he said.

Leopard Capital Managing Partner Scott Lewis said most countries – including neighbouring Laos – successfully used local currencies for listings. “The government has a clear policy to encourage use of the riel and I think it’s appropriate to list the stocks in riel,” he said yesterday.

Although there could be concerns over currency risk, the government does keep the riel in a fairly tight band against the United States dollar, he said. He also hoped companies would continue to be allowed to disclose financial results and complete accounting in dollars.

Leopard has two interests in the Cambodian exchange – it has a few companies in its portfolio that may list, and could also pursue opportunities to buy shares in some of the first companies to list.

Scott Lewis also stressed that it was important that companies were ready to float and the regulatory framework was in place for the exchange to succeed.

“If that takes six months or it takes three years, I’m indifferent. I’d rather have them do it right, and more time allows more companies to become mature and become listing candidates,” he said. “So I don’t think there’s any rush.”

CSX riel listings make sense in the long term

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Steve Finch

THE decision to use riels on the forthcoming stock exchange may alienate some foreign investors, at least at the start, but in the longer term opting against dollar listings was the right decision.

If Cambodia is to dedollarise an economy in which 90 percent of money supply is in foreign currency then running the stock exchange in riels from the outset means avoiding a painful process of converting from the greenback to local currency listings later.

In the longer term, the country has to start moving away from the greenback if the National Bank of Cambodia is to seize full monetary control.

The creation of a major institution such as the stock exchange operating in the United States currency would have had knock-on effects within the economy creating further dollar dependency. Were listings in dollars, then by logical extension debt issuance would have been also, meaning the main options for raising capital in Cambodia will have been in the greenback. Dollar listings would have attracted more dollars into the economy.

But in the short term, when the stock exchange remains an unknown quantity and confidence is vital, will riel listings scare off foreign investors?

The assertion this month by NBC Assistant Governor Sum Sannisith in local media that there is no dollar bias in the private sector seems partly misleading. While many local investors no doubt support riel listings, a number of foreign investors and analysts have both privately – and in some cases publicly – warned of the potential negative effect local currency listings could have on appetite for Cambodian stocks.

The riel has in recent years mostly remained stuck in a slow, steady decline in value against the dollar and is an unknown quantity on international currency markets. This creates a high level of risk for foreign investors.

No doubt the SECC will help alleviate some of this risk at the outset by allowing dollar settlements by negotiation for the first three years. But this solution raises as many questions as it answers. What exchange rate will determine settlements and stock values, and therefore to what extent will currency risk associated with the riel be removed as a result of this short-term measure?

The SECC said it had been in regular consultation with international financial institutions, academics, the private sector and the public in making its decision so presumably there is substantial support for riel listings. The question is, how much?

If the government has truly accounted for riel sentiment then its currency gamble should pay off representing a significant step towards dedollarisation. Anything less and Cambodia’s stock exchange could face a difficult debut.

Investors eye provincial enterprises

Workers outside the Green Feed plant in Kampong Cham, which was visited by potential investors last week. Photo by: Tom Brennan

Stanley Tan (centre), director of LTC Executive Search, speaks with Pol Kiri Sambath (right) at the Green Feed plant in Kampong Cham. Photo by: Tom Brennan

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Tom Brennan

Kampong Cham Province

JUST off National Road 7, outside Kampong Cham city centre, stands Green Feed’s massive processing plant. Inside, a machine three storeys high mixes raw materials like corn, tapioca and soy bean meal into animal food destined for local poultry and swine farmers.

The engine’s loud rumble nearly drowns out the voice of Pol Kiri Sambath, the company’s finance controller, as he gives a delegation of Singaporean investors, who are taking part in a project to boost small and medium enterprise, a tour of the facility last week.

Green Feed employs 100 permanent staff, in addition to 200 other workers, over two shifts a day, putting out 100 tonnes of product before the last person clocks out. The goal, though, is to reach 120 tons to 150 tonnes a day. And to get there, Pol Kiri Sambath needs some help.

He wants to grow his customer base beyond just medium-sized farms to their larger peers. The problem that faces Pol Kiri Sambath is that he doesn’t have the money to extend credit to these big farms, and banks like ANZ Royal, ACLEDA and others won’t lend Green Feed the money do it. They say the prospects are too risky.

“That’s why I look for funders from outside” Cambodia, he said. That’s where those Singaporean investors come in.

Their visit last week to Kampong Cham province, as well as Svay Reing province, was part of larger trip organised by Cambodia MSME, an initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development that seeks to bolster local micro, small and medium enterprises.

With so much investment centred in Phnom Penh, the group was trying to generate cash flows in other parts of the country.

While no one expects these two provinces to replace Battambang as Cambodia’s major agricultural centre any time soon, government officials, NGOs and local businessman see the region’s potential.

As Tauch Tiepich, chairman of Svay Reing’s rice millers’ association, said, Kampong Cham and Svay Reing are “moving in that direction”. Though they still have a way to go.

Most of the Singaporean investors cited corruption as a major concern for starting a business in the Kingdom, saying they were somewhat unsure of how to navigate such an environment.

Still, others said the such concerns weren’t enough to keep them away.

“It shouldn’t be something that stops you from investing here,” said Lai Poon Piau, director of Acorn Investments, who was searching for agriculture opportunities in Cambodia.

“Because I think this country offers a lot of opportunities for people with foresight. I believe that I am able to manage most of the business risk.”

Lai Poon Piau is not alone. Lee Kian Heng, who hopes to open cashew processing facilities, said he is looking to start “very soon” though he listed his “number-one concern” as potential government corruption.

Xavier Hu, chief negotiator for SME Funding Advisory, said these issues were just a part of doing business and that Cambodia was not that much different from Vietnam, Indonesia or Malaysia.

“Corruption happens in the whole world,” he said. “In some places, it’s known as donations and lobbying.”

Hu, whose firm finances small and medium-sized enterprises, was approached by Green Feed’s Pol Kiri Sambath for funding.

But SME will only deal with companies that have Singaporean partners, and there are not a lot of Singaporean investors currently in Cambodia.

Still, Hu said he felt he should be able “to work something out.”

If it does work out, the funding could catapult Green Feed to the next level.

That would be a small step toward achieving Pol Kiri Sambath’s vision for his company and Cambodia MSME’s vision for the provinces.

Garment training centre planned

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Soeun Say

THE Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that this year it plans to spend US$5 million to build a training centre in order to boost the skills of garment workers and enable them to take over management functions currently dominated by foreign workers.

“We hope to get something started as soon as in June,” said Ken Loo, secretary general of GMAC, after finishing an annual general meeting at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh yesterday. “Now, we are looking for a location to set up a building,” he said.

The training centre will be built using a loan from the French Development Agency, Ken Loo said.

Van Sou Ieng, who was elected president of GMAC yesterday, told The Post that the institute will be able to train around 1,000 workers a year.

“Our main purpose in building this institute is to train Cambodian workers in the garment sector with skills so that they will be able to replace foreign workers who are working in the management level in Cambodia at present,” Van Sou Ieng said.

Around 320,000 people work in Cambodia’s garment sector, including about 10,000 at management level.

However, most managers tend to be Chinese, Vietnamese or Filipino.

Van Sou Ieng said Cambodian workers with at least two years’ experience could apply for the training courses, which would range from six months to three years. Fees would be paid by employers.

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said yesterday that he welcomed the GMAC’s training centre as it will help Cambodians to get management-level jobs. Currently 90 percent of those positions in Cambodia are held by foreigners, he claimed.

“I hope that the training centre will enable our Cambodian workers to keep in touch with and to have access to modern techniques in the garment sector to fulfill the requirements of investors, and to replace foreign workers in Cambodia at present,” he said.

Wai Chun axes plans to buy Kingdom mines

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:01 Ellie Dyer

WAI Chun Mining Industry Group has scrapped the planned purchase of two Cambodian iron mines.

According to a filing on Friday with the Hong Kong stock exchange, the company has terminated an agreement over the possible acquisition of the mines together with a 74 percent interest in a South African manganese mine from Guangxi Non-ferrous Metals Group Company Limited and Guangxi Sincerity Investments & Trading Company Limited.

The two Cambodian mines were described in a November statement as being in the Kohkeo and Phnom Thmar regions of Cambodia.

Wai Chun was to purchase the mines through a combination of cash and a share issue to state-owned Guangxi, which would have seen the firm become “the flagship enterprise of Guangxi Non-Ferrous Metals in undertaking business activities in the mining and mineral resources sector,” it said in the November statement.

However, the two parties had mutually agreed to terminate the provisional agreement, said Hong Kong-based Wai Chun on Friday. “The company and the Guangxi Parties are unable to reach an ultimate agreement on the final structure and terms of definitive agreements in relation to the proposed acquisitions,” it said.

The buy “would require reorganisation and compliance with the relevant laws and regulations which provides uncertainties to the proposed acquisition”, it added.

Its board considered that the termination of the Heads of Agreement and the terms of the termination “have no material adverse impact on the existing business operations of the group”.

For the six months of 2010, the group recorded a turnover of HK$133 million (US$17 million) largely attributable to demand for its footwear business.

The company’s main business, according to its website, is the holding of 65 percent equity interest in Nority Limited, a manufacturer of athletic and athletic-style leisure footwear and golf shoes.

Gross profit during the same period was HK$17 million.

Shares in Wai Chun ended at HK$0.184 at close of trade on the Hong Kong exchange on Friday.

Indradevi Hope award winners

The Indradevi Hope Awards, designed by Artisans d’Angkor. Photo by: PHA LINA

Award winners pictured with their trophies. From left, Touth Koeun, Loem Lida and Sophea Oum, with sponsors. Photo by: CHHIM SREYNEANG

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:00 Sarah Macklin

THREE winners have been announced as the first to receive the country’s Indradevi Hope Awards, organised by Women’s International Group of Cambodia.

These unsung heroines were all working to change the way people live in their community, said WIG president Lynn Muller.

“They want people to have better lives: to have employment with dignity, to enjoy the kind of health care and education that you and I take for granted,” she told guests at the awards dinner at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

The Indradevi Hope awards were set up to recognise exceptional Cambodian women and are named after Queen Indradevi, wife of the 11-th-century King Jayavarman VII, who established healthcare services and schools for women.

Each of the three winners receives US$1,500 toward their chosen project. “WIG wanted to do more to raise money to support community development and particularly women and children in need,” said Muller.

Winner of the young achiever award was Loem Lida, a graduate teacher who gave up the bright lights of Phnom Penh to live and teach in a small village – Chanlead Dai, near Siem Reap.

In addition to her teaching duties at the school, she set up a network of volunteers, some as young as 14, to spread their knowledge of English by teaching other informal classes to kids in their own villages. Loem Lida oversees their work, helps them plan and set up lessons and spark new ideas in their path to learning.

In efforts to improve hygiene, the volunteers also set up rubbish bins around the outlying hamlets. Children organise the rubbish collection. Now the group wants to set up a fish farm and vegetable garden to help villagers improve their diets and combat malnutrition, still a serious problem in the province among many farmers.

Winner for dedication was Touth Koeun, who works amid the remote villages of Preah Vihear province battling to improve the health of mothers and their children. Originally trained as a nurse in refugee camps in Thailand, she returned to Cambodia to work with Health Unlimited.

When the Health Unlimited project closed in 2007, Touth Koeun saw there was still a need for rural maternal health services. So she promptly set up her own NGO – M’Day Reak Reay, Kone Reak Reay (Happy Mother, Happy Child).

This passes on vital nursing and midwifery skills to outlying villages and traditional birthing attendants using herbal medicines, working under the Ministry of Health.

Winner of the leadership award was Sophea Oum, who has a twin career – one as founder of an orphanage for children whose families were unable to look after them adequately, which currently cares for about 30 children. One of her original intake of about 100 kids has taken over the reins of everyday administration and French sponsorship funding enables her to keep the orphanage open.

Sophea Oum’s other career is as a silk entrepreneur. To help her small village gain better incomes, she set up Golden Silk in 2002, to revive traditional production of Cambodia’s legendary golden natural silk.

At a centre 30 kilometres from Siem Reap, women produce silk and use natural dyes to produce this rejuvenated classical cloth. The natural-coloured yellow silk is unique to Cambodia and production is mostly concentrated in rural areas. Today there’s a Golden Silk visitors’ centre where items are for sale and tourists can see how it’s made.

Discover classic dance outdoors by Chaktomuk

Performers of the makala dance can be seen each Friday night outside Chaktomuk Conference Hall. Photo by: SOVAN PHILONG

via CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 15:00 Roth Meas

TOP performers of traditional Cambodian dances will present their art to tourists in a new outdoor show that opened on Friday outside the Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh.

Under the aegis of the Department of Performing Arts at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the show will run every Friday, according to Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents.

His group is cooperating with the ministry to bring the finest classical traditions to tourists, he said.

Unlike other tourist displays, the show’s artists had performed in big national events and had been fully trained at university level, he said.

About 70 to 80 people are involved in each performance, explained Mao Keng, president of the Department of Performing Arts.

Features of the show include monorom, apsara and makala dances, alongside dances traditional to ethnic minorities in Cambodia.

Another feature of the show was a play in the shadow theatre tradition, which has been named as one of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Tourists don’t often get the chance to see shadow plays, which are rarely performed these days outside cultural events.

Performers were graduates of the Royal University of Fine Arts, many of whom had danced overseas, said Mao Keng.

“They have made the world hear about Cambodian arts, and foreign audiences who have seen them have even made the trip to Cambodia to watch their performance again,” he said.

The decision was made to stage outdoor shows so people could enjoy the riverside scenery and breezes, he added.

Performances for the 90-minute show start every Friday night until May from 7pm. Tickets on sale at the entrance of Chaktomuk Conference Hall cost US$10 for foreigners, and 10,000 riel for Cambodians. Advance tickets cost US$7 from travel agency offices.

If demand continues, extra performances may be added.

Labour firm fakes paperwork

Photo by: Hong Menea
A female trainee looks out through the metal bars on a balcony at the T&P Co Ltd training centre in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Friday.

Monday, 14 March 2011 14:21 Mom Kunthear and Chhay Channyda

Labour recruitment firm T&P Co Ltd has been faking documents for under-age women to make them eligible for domestic work abroad, a local rights advocate said today.
Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said today that at least two of five women recently released from the firm’s training centre are under age.

Moeun Tola said that Yorn Srey Leab, 17, from Kampong Chhnang province, was listed by T&P Co Ltd as 21-year-old Yorn Srey Houch – her sister’s name – and Sok Phal, 17, from Kampong Chhnang was listed as 21-year-old Kong Phalla.

“Authorities shall take tough action and punish [T&P Co Ltd] or shut their office to prevent other companies from following them,” said Moeun Tola.

T&P Co Ltd, which trains women for domestic work abroad, has come under scrutiny after a 35-year-old trainee died last Sunday and current trainees say they are being held against their will.

The five women released were Sok Phal, Yorn Srey Leab, Sorm Sophary from Kampong Thom province, Sao Chatou from Pursat province and Srun Channang from Kampong Cham province, who was publicly released last Friday in front of local authorities, prosecutors and Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians.

Yorn Srey Leab said that T&P Co Ltd was forcing her to pay US$550.

“My living condition in the centre is like staying in prison because I was not given the right to walk out,” she said.

Kek Galabru, president of rights group Licadho, said that there was no law that workers have to be detained in the firm after they registered.

“The government and the Labour Ministry have to clearly investigate this case because the government allowed the firms to recruit the workers,” she said.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said that the company had no guidance from the ministry or local authorities.

“It seems normal for some recruitment firms that they have to detain the workers,” said Son Chhay, adding that at least 10 recruitment firms were detaining workers.

“Some local officials hide the cases of companies that detain workers.”

Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Cheam Yeap said that companies have to report activities and internal rules to police and relevant ministries.

“If they don’t report to them I think it is illegal because they recruit the workers for detaining.”


UNESCO meeting planned

Photo by: Reuters
Buddhist monks walk through the grounds of the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple near the Thai-Cambodian border in February.

via CAAI

Sunday, 13 March 2011 18:32 Cheang Sokha

Cambodian and Thai officials have agreed to meet at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in May to discuss the preservation of Preah Vihear temple following deadly clashes last month that damaged the 11th-century site.

In a statement issued on Friday, UNESCO said the meeting would build on momentum generated by the organisation’s special envoy addressing the dispute, Koichiro Matsuura, who visited Bangkok and Phnom Penh last month in an attempt to ease tensions.

“I am very pleased with the success of Mr Matsuura’s mission, and I am very encouraged by his talks with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, which have helped open the way for further dialogue on the effective conservation of Preah Vihear,” UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said in a statement.

“This will be the main aim of discussions in Paris on 25 May.”

Tensions have been heightened along the border near Preah Vihear temple since it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for Cambodia in 2008 over Thai objections. Last month, the situation spilled over into violence as at least 10 people were killed, dozens injured and thousands of civilians displaced in clashes between the respective forces.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who also serves as chairman of the Cambodian National Committee for UNESCO, will lead the delegation from Phnom Penn to the meeting in Paris and will reiterate Cambodia’s claim that Thai troops caused severe damage to the temple.

“We have already reported to UNESCO about the damage to the temple of Preah Vihear,” Phay Siphan said.

The temple sustained surface-level damage during last month’s fighting, though it did not appear to have structural problems.

The meeting in Paris will come ahead of a UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting to be held in Bahrain in June, where another showdown is expected between Thailand and Cambodia.

At the previous WHC meeting, held last year in Brazil, Cambodia submitted a management plan for Preah Vihear despite Thai protests.

While Cambodia’s ownership of the temple is not contested, both sides lay claim to a 4.6 square-kilometre piece of territory adjacent to the site.

Cambodian leaders have also agreed to attend a meeting with Thai officials in Indonesia on March 24 in relation to the border dispute.

Indonesia is set to deploy teams of unarmed military observers to both sides of the border in an effort to monitor the situation and help preserve the fragile peace in the area.

Prince spurs defections: NRP

via CAAI

Sunday, 13 March 2011 19:07 Meas Sokchea

Flagging confidence in the leadership of the royalist Funcinpec party has led to the defection of more than 100 members to the Norodom Ranariddh Party, NRP officials said.

Pen Sangha, a spokesman for the NRP, said today that 127 Funcinpec members described as party activists in Kampong Cham’s Stung Trong, Chamkar Leu and Kroch Chhmar districts declared their defection to the NRP during a visit to the region by the eponymous party head Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

“Commune and district party officials have led their activists and supporters to defect to the NRP,” Pen Sangha said.

“We see that when the prince goes to the provinces, he receives widespread support from members and activists.”

He added that at the grassroots level, Funcinpec party members no longer have confidence in their leaders, such as Keo Puth Reaksmey and Nhek Bun Chhay, because they have failed to articulate a clear political platform.

Prak Chanthy, a former women’s movement leader for Funcinpec, said today her defection was the result of a loss of confidence in the party’s leadership.

“The top leaders have never gone down to visit the grassroots [organisation]. The top leaders have turned to the Cambodian People’s Party. I don’t have a branch to hang on to, so I must defect to the NRP.”

Or Sophat, Funcinpec’s deputy president in Prey Chhor district who took part in a welcoming event for the visiting prince, said he has no plans to defect to the NRP but would support a merger of the two parties before refusing to discuss the issue further.

Funcinpec spokesman Tom Sambol, however, dismissed reports of the defections, saying the allegations were the result of exaggerated reports by NRP officials.

“I have already checked the permanent commission of districts and provinces, and there are no members that have defected to the NRP,” he said.

“People close to the prince have reported these defections simply to earn favour with him. I believe that no one has defected because I am a strong man in Kampong Cham province as well.”

The reported defections come at a time when internal disputes within Funcinpec have pitted top leaders against each other over the alleged mismanagement of party property and funds.

Funcinpec central committee member Phan Chantha last month charged the party’s secretary general, Nhek Bun Chay, with selling the party’s headquarters on Norodom Boulevard for US$3.85 million and purchasing new offices in Kandal province for an undisclosed price.

Nhek Bun Chhay has dismissed the allegations, saying at the time that Phan Chantha had accused him because he was planning to defect to the NRP.

Raid nets giant drug haul

via CAAI

Sunday, 13 March 2011 18:44 May Titthara

Police from the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug office raided a residence in Phnom Penh used for drug trafficking on Friday, in which more than 80,000 yama pills and about 3 kilograms of methamphetamine were confiscated, according to Kiev Samon, acting director of the anti-drug department.

“It is historic. We rarely [confiscate] such a large quantity of illegal drugs and if prosecuted, these offenders will not see the sunlight,” he said today, meaning that if found guilty the suspects could face harsh prison sentences.

Kiev Samon added that police could not reveal the number of suspects arrested because they are investigating the ringleaders of the operation and that could jeopardise their investigation.

He said that police worked with prosecutors from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to raid the home, located in the Tuol Kork village of Russei Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune, at about 11pm on Friday night.

“It is important to crack down on the drugs because Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered to strongly [target drugs] in order that there are no drugs in Cambodia by 2015,” he said.